According to recent studies, patients with mesothelioma and other cancers are as overwhelmed with the disease’s impact on their finances as they are with their poor prognosis.
Though hospitals and cancer centers are trying to help mesothelioma patients by offering financial counseling and patient navigators to help them deal with the complexities of insurance coverage, the situation remains a crisis for the patients and their family members.
The expense of treating cancers of all types continues to rise, and some patients have gone so far as to discontinue treatment or cut back on medications in order to lower their costs.
According to Dr. Yousuf Zafar, a Duke Cancer Institute oncologist who studies financial distress, the improvements in cancer treatments present a double-edged sword: patients are living longer and require care over a longer period of time, and that is driving costs up.
The situation is made worse because patients and their caregivers end up missing works or incurring additional unexpected costs for travel.
Zafar’s studies are not limited to those with mesothelioma. He recently surveyed 300 adults who had been diagnosed with cancer, and though all of them were insured, roughly 40 percent indicated that their financial burdens were far higher than expected. Sixteen percent reported dealing with “overwhelming financial distress.”
In response many skip medication doses or take smaller amounts. Other studies have found that patients diagnosed with cancer are more than twice as likely to declare bankruptcy than those who are well.
In offering advice to mesothelioma patients and others with cancer, Dr. Veena Shankaran of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle says, “A lot of times people don’t realize there are resources available until they’ve already gone broke.”
If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with mesothelioma and you need information about financial resources available to you, contact the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net today at 1-800-692-8608.